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Unwanted Feelings Knocking at Your Door? Try this…

There are many things in life we don’t seem to have control over in any given moment. These can be emotions that arise, things happening to us in our job or family situation, or how people react to us. How we naturally turn to fight these things, we inevitably end up feeling frustrated or upset which triggers us into some form of escape or avoidance (e.g., substance abuse). How can we be more skillful?

It’s important to acknowledge that we can’t control all things that come at us. Life just seems to happen sometimes. However, we can start cultivating a radically new relationship toward these automatic unwanted feelings that arise so we don’t amplify the situation and instead lend our experience toward more peace and calm that make for more effective actions.

“Letting be” is a key phrase I often use with people when it comes to difficult feelings and experiences. This implies an acknowledgement of what is happening and an “allowing” instead of “fighting against.”  This attitude is important in taking care of ourselves and enabling us to see what we really need in that moment more clearly. This may not be easy, but it’s a critical practice.

Try: One way to practice accepting difficult feelings is through the body where they often arise. Doing gentle stretching or yoga is a way to experience this while also being kind to your body at the same time. In doing these practices, you will undoubtedly feel some form of burning sensation (may be pleasant or unpleasant or both). When doing these practices, allow this feeling to be and even begin to breathe into it. You might say to yourself, “breathing into this feeling, I soften it, breathing out, I open to it.” Always knowing and respecting your limits when doing this. If you want professional support with this, check out a beginner’s yoga class in your area. This gives you the intimate experience of approaching, instead of avoiding, difficult feelings, and being able to manage yourself through it.

When unwanted feelings arise in daily life, you can turn your attention to it in the same way you did with the yoga practice. From this space you can then ask yourself, “What is the best way to take care of myself right now?” This will more often lead to skillful action.

What are some ways that you manage difficult feelings that would often lead to escape or avoidance? Please share your thoughts, questions, and stories below. Your interactions here provide a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.

Unwanted Feelings Knocking at Your Door? Try this…

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is creator of the six month online program A Course in Mindful Living, author of the book Uncovering Happiness: Overcoming Depression with Mindfulness and Self-Compassion, The Now Effect, co-author of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, Foreword by Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of Mindfulness Meditations for the Anxious Traveler: Quick Exercises to Calm Your Mind, the premier eCourse Basics of Mindfulness Meditation: A 28 Day Program, the Mindful Solutions audio series, and the Mindfulness at Work™ program currently being adopted in multiple multinational corporations. Join The Now Effect Community for free Daily Now Moments and a Weekly Newsletter. Dr. Goldstein is a clinical psychologist in private practice in West Los Angeles.

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APA Reference
Goldstein, E. (2009). Unwanted Feelings Knocking at Your Door? Try this…. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 15, 2020, from


Last updated: 17 Jul 2009
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